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Phal crisis! 2 sick plants

Discussion in 'Issues, Disease and Pests' started by orchid127, Dec 13, 2021.

  1. orchid127

    orchid127 New Member

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    Hello everyone!
    I was recently gifted two beautiful Phals. Both of them are now having different problems and I am having problems identifying what causes them and how to help.

    Case 1:

    • Phalaepnosis
    • Dry, wrinkly, limp leaves
    • few roots

    This baby has been going through a crisis for a while. A month ago I noticed that the leaves were dry, wrinkly and limp. I eventually found out she was severely dehydrated.

    This orchid was mounted and I only watered it once a week, because I was scared of overwatering it and causing root rot. I didn't understand back then that since this orchid's roots are totally free and air dry fast, they needed more water than a potted orchid.

    When I learned this, I began watering much more often, but it did not improve. I tried the black tea method, no improvement.

    She came from someone's personal collection, so she was always this small. Sadly she has lost two leaves and I fear the ones left will only resist for a few days more.

    Is this orchid lacking in roots? Is there a bacterial/fungal infection? Should I pot it?

    Case 2:
    • yellow/reddish leave
    • small insect/white spots in orchid medium
    • dark spots in root

    This is my newest orchid. This one is store bought and was also a gift.

    When she first came, I noticed that the roots had some darker spots. I didn't know wether it was normal or not, but the leaves looked fine.


    Yesterday I noticed that one leave had turned yellow/reddish.

    Upon further inspection I discovered this. There was also a small insect, but I couldn't find it again when I took the pictures.
    Is the yellow leave an older one? I noticed that there seems like two more flowers are in the way. Is it possible for that to be causing the yellowing of the leave? Is some sort of pest/disease causing this?

    Thank you all for taking the time to read this. I would truly appreciate some advice.
  2. KellyW

    KellyW Orchid wonk Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Redding, California, USA
    With the first plant I would soak the roots in a bowl of water for about 24 hours. Then pot it in orchid bark. Water it every 7-10 days, more in the summer.

    On the second plant it looks like the yellow leaf is coming from below the medium. It is probably rotted and should be removed. It may pull off easily but if not use a sterile blade.
    orchid127 likes this.
  3. Ray

    Ray Orchid Iconoclast Supporting Member

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    Oak Island NC
    1) Water DOES NOT cause root rot. Healthy tissue does not rot. Suffocation causes root death, and THEN it rots. Change your thinking from "over-watered" to "under-aired", and you'll quickly understand how to care for your plants better. A mounted plant will never have its root suffocated.

    2) The loss of a small, lower leaf is not necessarily a cause for concern, but may be an indication that the plant is not getting enough water, either due to underwatering or having a compromised root system. The mix in that pot looks a bit too dense, as far as I can tell from the photo. Like Kelly, I'd recommend something a bit coarser, so you can keep the medium moist without fear of suffocating the roots.
    orchid127 likes this.
  4. orchid127

    orchid127 New Member

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    Thank you so much Kelly and Ray! I definitely feel a lot calmer. I'll follow your advice and see how it goes :)
  5. Tired

    Tired Member

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    The insect in the pot was most likely a springtail. They live in dirt, leaf litter, and the like that stays constantly damp. In terrariums, they're useful, as they scavenge on dead leaves and mold. In an orchid pot, they can mean it's being kept too damp.

    When you water a phal, you'll notice that the roots turn from silvery-green to bright green. The plant shouldn't be watered again until after those roots turn back to silvery-green. I'd suggest a transparent pot for the potted one, as you can then easily see what color the roots are. As said above, watering once a week is generally good for phals, though be mindful of environmental conditions that could affect that. All of my plants are indoors, so they don't need more water in the summer, but some of them do want more in the winter because the central heating dries the air out. When you water, pour water through the pot until it runs out the bottom, to thoroughly reach all of the media. Really, that's what most plants want. Anything that doesn't want to be kept constantly moist generally wants to be watered deeply and allowed to dry out somewhat (usually not all the way) before the next watering. Helps promote healthy roots.

    It's normal for phals to gradually lose their oldest leaves, which are the leaves at the bottom of the plant. New leaves come from the crown in the center. Make sure to never leave water standing in the crown, this can rot the plant very fast.

    Phals are hardy. If it has at least one leaf, one root, and no crown rot, it has some chance of coming back. Both of yours have multiple leaves, multiple roots, and no evident rot, so they should both recover, if you can get them in conditions they like. The first one may be a smaller variety, some phals just aren't very large. Though if it hasn't bloomed yet, it may be a baby.